Take a look inside this stunning Georgian grade 2 listed property near Huddersfield that used to be a market garden

Jill and Jim Harris bought Grade II listed Fenay Lodge in Almonbury 30 years ago. They transformed the house and gardens into a stunning family home and photoshoot location, Catherine Scott writes.

Walking in to the cool almost monotone palette of Fenay Lodge today, where original features meet contemporary French-inspired chic, it is hard to imagine it was once full of bright primary colours, layers of floral wallpaper and black painted panelling.

“We bought the house in 1994,” says owner Jill Harris. Jill and Jim had their own marketing agency in Leeds and were commercial photographers, Jim still works as an architectural photographer and their eye for detail and style is clear to see. “It is all Jill’s work,” says Jim. When they first bought the Georgian Grade 2 listed house which cost in the region of £250,000 they were both working full time with two young children and so only really had time to do the essentials which included adding a single storey extension to create a kitchen and fix the roof. “The kitchen was a potting shed,” recalls Jill. “And there was water running down the walls.”

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They added the glass-roofed stone extension to complement the existing house, but as it had once been a market garden with glass houses they had to dig through layers as asphalt first and import soil for the gardens. Although they quickly put their stamp on the Lodge and made it into a family home, Jill says it is only really in the last ten years, and particularly in the last four since they retired, that they have got the house and gardens as they really want them. “I’ve probably done each room three times over the years as your taste changes.”

Finay Lodge AlmondburyFinay Lodge Almondbury
Finay Lodge Almondbury

Her taste now is very much on a muted palette of whites, greys, neutral tones and even black, which is clear throughout the house. As you enter the impressive hallway the first thing that greets you is stunning cantilevered stairs leading to the first floor and a galleried landing. Off this is a guest room with ensuite, which the Harrises added. “This room is haunted,” says Jill. “The previous owners told us the day they left.”

Moving on to the impressive master bedroom with huge ensuite shower room – this room is not haunted Jill stresses. The French influence is clear to see here. As in the rest of the house the couple have restored the original shutters and voiles hang at the large window overlooking the impressive formal gardens. The bath that had been in the original ensuite, moved into the bedroom as a feature, replaced by a walk-in shower. Jill is rightly proud of the intricate tiled flooring which she found in the bargain bin of a tile shop in Huddersfield.

“It looks like we have thrown money at it but we really haven’t,” she says. “When I got home I thought I’d look them up to see who made them and discovered it was someone who had taken their designs from the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum), so I was really pleased.”

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Further along the landing is what feels to be Jill’s favourite room. A second guest room has been turned into a walk-in dressing room with floor to ceiling panelled cupboards – including one dedicated to Jill’s shoes. The dressing room, indeed all the joinery throughout the house, including the radiator covers, has been done by local joiner David Lock.

Morning roomMorning room
Morning room

"The children laugh at me that I have made it into a three-bedroomed house. But the cupboards are designed in such as way that they can easily be removed and it can be turned back into a bedroom.”

Downstairs we go into what ‘s now named the morning room, but Jim still refers to his favourite room as the green room as it used to painted green. Now it is very much an example of Jill’s monotone taste, with white panelling contrasted with the near black Farrow and Ball, Railings.

Other than the panelling, shutters and stripped floorboards, much of the morning room is contemporary with a modern fire surround and a log burner and stylish corner sofa. As in much of the house black and while photographs taken by the couple hang next to old deeds of the house. This juxtaposition of contemporary versus traditional can be seen throughout the Fenay Lodge which was built in 1760.

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When she was working Jill did a lot of interiors shoots and styling and they even used their own house as a backdrop for clients and her stamp is everywhere. They are currently on the books of UK Locations, the Leeds-based agency providing high-end film and TV drama locations across Britain.

View through to the kitchenView through to the kitchen
View through to the kitchen

One of the rooms that has been used for promoting a furniture company before they joined UK Locations www.uklocations.co.uk is what the couple refer to as the Oval Lounge – unsurprisingly due to its unusual oval shape. "Even the doors are curved,” points out Jim. Sadly, few of the original Georgian features remained when the Harrises bought the property, many date from the Victorian era. Some of the rooms had been divided and cornicing crudely chopped and so they set about getting new moldings to replace the ones that were missing. In the Oval Lounge the bottom half of the walls are covered in Lincrusta which has been dated to 1903. Lincrusta is made from a paste of gelled linseed oil and wood flour on a paper base. It is squeezed between steel rollers, one with an embossed pattern, and is notoriously difficult to apply.

Because they did a lot of work for Crown they replicated o the original Lincrusta now runs the length of the staircase – applied patiently by Jim. The centre piece of the Oval Lounge is a modern glass light fitting incorporating different coloured glasses made by Jill. The couple shop around for furniture, with some coming from Batley’s Red Brick Mill. One of their favourite shops for antiques and accessories is Kirkgate House Eclectic Living (www.kirkgatehouse.co.uk) in Ripon.

The garden is another of Jill’s triumphs. “Like the Georgians I like symmetry and wanted the garden to look planned like the house. Because of the different levels we made a number of formal zones.” A herb garden has been replaced by gravel, pots and box hedges. Sloping wooden decking links the gardens.